Note: If you're looking for the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs matchup between these two teams, please go here: San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Pick.
Denver Broncos (5-0, 5-0 ATS) at San Diego Chargers (2-2, 1-3 ATS)
Qualcomm Stadium Monday October 19th, 8:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
A week after the AFC East took center stage on Monday night, the AFC West gets their taste of the action this week. The battle marks a home stand from the San Diego Chargers who took down the conference one season ago as they will battle with the biggest surprise team in the NFL this season.
The Denver Broncos undefeated start did not get much respect through the opening weeks of the season. However after a big win against Dallas and even bigger win last week in overtime to New England, the Broncos are among the best in the AFC with an unblemished mark of 5-0. The Broncos may have not been given the title of the best in the AFC quite yet, but you can not deny the impressive start and they lead the Chargers by 2 games already in the AFC West.
Denver is fresh off their biggest win of the season last week a 20-17 thriller over the Patriots on overtime. The Broncos had caught the early deception as a defensive team, but racked up 424 yards of total offense. QB Kyle Orton keeps silencing all the Denver critics for that seemingly lucrative trade for Jay Cutler over the off-season. However, Orton had another solid performance completing 35 of 48 (72%) and 330 yards with 2 scores. The passing offense has been fueled by the help and re-emergence of WR Brandon Marshall. Marshall has been getting more passes thrown his way and the numbers are slowly coming around. All of Marshall's 4 touchdowns have come in the last 4 games. The passing offense also got a big lift last week from 2nd year youngster WR Eddie Royal. It was the performance the coaching staff had been waiting out of Royal who caught 10 passes for 90 yards and the young talent is a player they fill can really contribute on offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos defense remains stellar. Denver held the Patriots to 305 total yards of offense and held Tom Brady to just 215 passing yards in last week's win. The Denver defense remains the best scoring defense in the NFL allowing just 8.6 points per game. Actually, the Patriots 17 points was the first time this season an opposing team has score over 10 points all year. The intense Denver defense now takes on another solid passing threat from Phillip Rivers and company. However if early indications are any signs of things to come, the Broncos defense should give them the opportunity to win every game this season if they keep playing well.
San Diego had some time off in their bye week this past Sunday after their last outing was that Sunday night scoring shootout loss with Pittsburgh 38-28. The Chargers running game has been flat pathetic this season. The Chargers have yet to have a tailback over 100 yards for the season through 4 games. Darren Sproles gave some preseason hope to fill in for the injury plagued LaDainian Tomlinson. However, neither tailback has been effective this season with just 160 yards combined on the season. The struggling running game has resulted in a lot of excess work for quarterback Phillip Rivers.
Rivers is averaging nearly 38 passing attempts per contest this season for the lack of ground game. However, they have been fairly strong despite the unbalanced offensive approach. Rivers is averaging a stout 311 yards per game and has 6 touchdowns on the season along with 3 interceptions. Wide outs Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates have played well this season. Jackson leads the team with 373 yards while Gates follows close behind with 349 yards. Both wide outs have two scores a piece this season and will be the featured targets from Rivers again this Monday night.
The difference in this game will come down to the Denver offensive line against the San Diego defensive front. The Broncos could have the best offensive push up front in the league and now they will take on a Chargers unit that has struggled. The Chargers defensive front has allowed 151 yards per game from their run stop unit and 4.6 yards per attempt. Also, the Chargers have struggled to get to the quarterback this season with just 6 sacks in 4 games. The Broncos offensive line will dominate up front giving running backs Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter plenty of opportunities to make plays on the ground. If the line does indeed dominate it will also give Orton plenty of extra time and he has been playing very well as stated earlier. Those factors will keep Denver undefeated this week unless the Chargers defense steps up to the challenge in front of the home crowd.
Jay's Pick - Denver is perfect against the books here and they will control the trenches and improve that impressive run to 6-0 ATS this Monday. Take the Denver Broncos +3.5.
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